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Speaker: TPP: Error Correction

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    Just what are we going to be exporting there that's going to make so much money?

    And the US will not and will never open up its agricultural markets in a way that impacts its farm lobby. So we aren't going to get a better price for milk powder.

    Mostly, stuff we are successful in exporting is stuff people need and can't produce locally at a reasonable price. Timber to Japan, milk to China, Serato Final Scratch to DJs everywhere. That doesn't need a free trade agreement. British DJs don't prefer using Traktor because it's a German product.

    This isn't a free trade agreement, it's a protection agreement for large (mostly) US corporations.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    A slight correction to point 2 - corporations can sue in court, under the laws of a country, which is actually what the tobacco industry is doing in Australia at present. What the TPP would allow them to do is seek judgements against governments from a private tribunal, made up of lawyers from corporations, with no appeal process, which is what Chevron has done in Ecuador, to set aside an Ecuadorian judicial ruling, and what Infinito Gold is doing in Costa Rica. Smellie doesn't even mention this extra-judiciality.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Could someone please give me a brief explanation of what the TPP is and why it's so important. I've seen many tweets on the subject, but when I ask, no one seems to have the time to describe it. Like, pretend I know nothing and go from there.

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Robyn Gallagher,

    Have you read the wikipedia article on it yet ?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 615 posts Report Reply

  • TracyMac,

    The only quibble I have is with the statement that members of Parliament are not representative of the population as a whole. Sure, in the socio-economic sense, but we elected the buggers.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    That's a good place to start. Robyn, it's a multi-national treaty that started life as a much smaller trade agreement between 4 nations - NZ, Brunei, Chile and Singapore. As hopes for ACTA started to fade because of European intransigence, the US decided to join in and try and do the same sort of thing on a somewhat wider range of issues but without that pesky European Parliament. With a large group of states (now up to 12), who are not joined the way European states are, the US may have decided they had a better chance of strong-arming individual nations to accept their rules. Since 2010, the US Trade Representative (a global Ambassador, part of Obama's Cabinet) has been driving these 'negotiations' just as he did for ACTA, and under the same all-encompassing secrecy. We have had a few leaks, but they have managed it much more tightly than ACTA was, which leaked like a sieve.

    What little we actually know is not encouraging. It appears that the treaty is less about trade than it is about forcing member nations to accept and adopt the IP regulations of the US and remove bureaucratic red tape that might require corporations to comply with silly things like environmental standards and human rights legislation. It's a bold push by the corporations of the US to take control of the global economy de jure as well as de facto.

    Where the secrecy is particularly concerning is here in NZ, because, as Bill Hodge implies above, Parliamentary ratification is a rubber stamp if Cabinet decides we are signing it. Which they will, given comments by Key, Joyce and Groser.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew E,

    If they have nothing to hide, surely they have nothing to fear. That's the excuse that governments are using to apply more surveillance to civil society - it's just as validly applied to them.

    I agree with you about the secrecy, Mark, but 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear' is not a valid argument in relation to the surveillance. The point is that governments should be accountable to their people, not the other way around. And that in order to have a legitimately representative democracy, the public needs the information disclosed to them in order that they can give (or withhold) informed consent to any deal reached.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to TracyMac,

    The only quibble I have is with the statement that members of Parliament are not representative of the population as a whole. Sure, in the socio-economic sense, but we elected the buggers.

    Umm, I think I did say that, Tracey:

    Smellie can’t (or won’t) tell us how many NZ politicians have agreed to silence themselves to get a peek at something they can’t do anything about, but he’s sure they can, and somewhere along the line he’s missed the fact that the party in the House is a subset of the party at large, which may or may not agree with this, and that the members in the House are representatives of the population at large

    Perhaps I wasn't clear. It seemed to me that Smellie assumed that the only people who speak for the National party (for example) are the Ministers in Cabinet, whereas I wanted to note that there's a bigger party than just what's in the House, and that thier point of view needs to be considered by the Cabinet as well, or they risk a palace revolt. The point about MPs being our representatives follows from that and that MPs in general need to realise they have to take account of that the people want them to do and not try to manufacture some spurious mandate to take action. The only way to make this happen is to contact our local MPs and make them aware that we don't want this thing and they won't get re-elected if they make it happen. I didn't get that detailed in the article because it was outside the lines of rebuttal that I set myself.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Andrew E,

    I agree with you about the secrecy, Mark, but ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ is not a valid argument in relation to the surveillance. The point is that governments should be accountable to their people, not the other way around. And that in order to have a legitimately representative democracy, the public needs the information disclosed to them in order that they can give (or withhold) informed consent to any deal reached.

    I agree, it was a sarky jab at the government line on surveillance. It's not validly applied to us, I know, and is far more validly applied to them. I'll toddle off and do a refresher course in sarcasm ;-)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew E,

    And I'll ingest more caffeine, so I don't miss the sarcasm in future... :-)

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    The guts of it seems to come down to what level of openness the TPP will have before it has any impact. Presumably its terms will be made public once it's signed: it won't have any impact before that. At some point after that, the govt will put its terms into effect: some of those will need to be legislated while others won't. I'd expect, say, disestablishing pharmac would mean changing the legislation that sets it up. Anything needing to be legislated has an element of public consultation to it. Parliament can always choose not to pass legislation - take it or leave it is still a choice of sorts. It's the decisions that don't need legislation that could become faits accomplis. The ballot box every three years is the only restraint against that.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    what the tobacco industry is doing in Australia at present

    thought they were relying on that nation's agreement with Hong Kong?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19688 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to B Jones,

    Presumably its terms will be made public once it’s signed: it won’t have any impact before that.

    I've been told that the proposal includes keeping the fine detail confidential from the public for around 5 years, but I'm just looking for a source on that, so I didn't include it in the article.

    Anything needing to be legislated has an element of public consultation to it. Parliament can always choose not to pass legislation – take it or leave it is still a choice of sorts

    Yeah, nah. Once you have signed a treaty, you have to ensure that your domestic legislation complies with your international obligations. That was the worry around ACTA, that it would force the NZG to pass very restrictive copyright amendments "to meet our international obligations". And if the party that signed the treaty is still the party in power, slam dunk.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    thought they were relying on that nation’s agreement with Hong Kong?

    O gods, second correction on the same point. Quite right, my bad. I was right the first time, but with the wrong country. Australia did not sign up to the US demands for the tribunals when they signed their FTA. They did, however, leave it in for their FTA with Hong Kong.

    I understand Philip Morris moved their "Australian Headquarters" to Hong Kong's jurisdiction precisely to take advantage of this.

    Thanks Sacha.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    " The bogey of corporations being able to sue governments is not only overblown, but corporations can do that now, without a TPP.'

    The example of Australia causes some confusion, since Philip Morris has tried both approaches there.
    The High Court (their Supreme Court) ruled that the government didn't breach the constitution and acquire their ( intellectual ) property ( without compensation) when it legislated to mandate plain packaging for tobacco products. This was in 2012.

    The Australian Free Trade network says:
    The Philip Morris tobacco company is currently suing the Australian government over its tobacco plain packaging legislation, using an obscure 1993 Hong Kong- Australia investment treaty. Philip Morris is actually a US-based company, but could not sue under the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, because public opposition kept this clause out of the agreement. Philip Morris rearranged its assets to become a Hong Kong investor in order to use an obscure treaty.

    So it would more correct to say, they may sue under existing laws but they havent won.
    And NZ without a written constitution doesnt seem to be in that category.

    But if you were trying to mislead ....

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Steve Curtis,

    But if you were trying to mislead ….

    You may very well think that. I couldn't possibly comment.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    As a further comment about trademarks and patents, the High Court agreed with the Commonwealth that registering trademarks merely prevented others from copying the mark and didnt make it real property.They referred to a previous judgement:

    "Delusive exactness is a source of fallacy throughout the law. By calling a business 'property' you make it seem like land, and lead up to the conclusion that a statute cannot substantially cut down the advantages of ownership existing before the statute was passed. An established business no doubt may have pecuniary value and commonly is protected by law against various unjustified injuries. But you cannot give it definiteness of contour by calling it a thing."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Here's a pretty good analysis of some of the issues and an action group that was the source of it, I believe.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to nzlemming,

    I’ve been told that the proposal includes keeping the fine detail confidential from the public for around 5 years, but I’m just looking for a source on that, so I didn’t include it in the article.

    Matthew Holloway has kindly provided a source and clarified that it’s 4 years, not 5.
    From MFAT:

    First, all participants agree that the negotiating texts, proposals of each Government, accompanying explanatory material, emails related to the substance of the negotiations, and other information exchanged in the context of the negotiations, is provided and will be held in confidence, unless each participant involved in a communication subsequently agrees to its release. This means that the documents may be provided only to (1) government officials or (2) persons outside government who participate in that government’s domestic consultation process and who have a need to review or be advised of the information in these documents. Anyone given access to the documents will be alerted that they cannot share the documents with people not authorized to see them. All participants plan to hold these documents in confidence for four years after entry into force of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, or if no agreement enters into force, for four years after the last round of negotiations

    emphasis mine

    Also see this start page search and make your own way down the rabbit hole.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    With respect to Pharmac.

    This National government is the only government to have use political pressure to overturn a pharmac decision. Motivated almost solely by lobbying from a pressure group that went door knocking to get votes and donations for National.

    This is also the government that has several times made statements that they do not philosophically agree with interference in the free market by pharmac nor do they agree that ACC is better for NZ than a US style health insurance system.

    I have no doubt that given an excuse like the TPP that National would disband pharmac in second.

    And as someone who has lived in the US and seen just what their medical system is like for the middle class let alone the poor I can say with confidence that NZ would be worse off - even if Mr Smellie and his cronies might gain from the deal.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    What pissed me off about Smellie's article was not the detail but rather the whole premise that the only people objecting were the ones who didn't really know what grown ups actually did when they went to work and he was going to kindly reassure us to stop worrying and go play with our toys again because the nice men in suits would all look after us.

    Yes that was all meant to be said with one breath.

    mutter mutter arrogant git mutter mutter

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    pretty hard to respond to a column on Twitter.

    Oh, if only there were some place other than Twitter where he could respond.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4650 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    From the Smellie piece:

    Back in the day, when Trade Minister Tim Groser was just another diplomat assisting World Trade Organisation negotiations, he had to run a committee involving five big nations on a deadlocked issue.

    Applying the "dark arts of trade negotiation", he inserted a different minor error into each of the five drafts distributed. If anyone leaked, he'd know who it was.

    Tim Groser is not Sherlock fucking Holmes. Without citation this story reeks of more bullshit than the rest of the opinion piece.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2090 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    And the US will not and will never open up its agricultural markets in a way that impacts its farm lobby. So we aren’t going to get a better price for milk powder.

    The farming lobby in America is probably more powerful than even the NRA. Same goes for the farming lobbies in Japan and the EU.

    More to the point, there's already enough resistance to the TPPA within America as it is, courtesy of Harry Reid and more than a few others.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

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